The view from Kyiv: A Ukrainian agency chief speaks out

por Mark Tungate , AdForum

A couple of days ago we were surprised to receive a mail from a Ukrainian agency asking about entries to the Epica Awards. We took the opportunity to ask a few questions about the situation on the ground in Kyiv. We received the replies from CEO Valentin Paniuta this morning. The views expressed are his own and have not been moderated in any way.

Is the agency still functioning? How many employees are there? What is your work situation on a daily basis?

We lost all the Ukrainian market, which was about 80% of our business. We decided to be a non-profitable organization during the war. It means we saved all the positions in our agency – about 80 people – and share all our current budget among all employees by equal parts regardless of previous salaries and positions. 

We have several clients in Central Asia and Eastern Europe and these projects keep us alive. But today our main client is our country – we take part in many volunteer projects. Actually nowadays almost all Ukrainian creatives are kind of soldiers of the Ukrainian info-army. We help our country to fight Russian propaganda.  

What kind of contact have you had with your clients there? 

Our clients got used to online communication since the pandemic. 

Is the agency involved in communicating about the invasion, keeping citizens informed?

Yes, sure. We consider it our main mission these days. We are involved in many communication projects for our people, army and government. Some of our creatives defend our country as a part of the territorial armed forces. They are still our employees and we are really proud of them.

What measures are you taking to stay safe?

Many of our employees are still in Kyiv or other Ukrainian cities which are suffering from daily air attacks. That’s why we have to consider constant air alerts, which sometimes happen right in the middle of important meetings. When it happens we have to run into bomb shelters.

How hard is it to obtain basic supplies: food, water, light, heating?

It’s really hard to live in the cities which are surrounded by Russian troops – Mariupol, Kharkiv or northern suburbs of Kyiv. But in relatively safe cities we have quite a normal situation with food, water and light.

Feel free to express yourself in any way that would help us spread the word among the global creative community about the plight of agencies there.

We are really grateful for all the support we have from western world and its creative community. We feel it and appreciate it. We are also completely aware of the fact that the freedom of our country, our personal freedom as well as our lives, depend on us and only on us. And actually we learned how to accept all these crucial changes in our careers and our lives during the last three weeks of invasion. 

The only thing we would like to convey to all the European creative community – you can’t support Ukraine without blaming Russia and the Russians. And we know how hard to accept this in a tolerant society. But you need to understand that we don’t have problem only with Putin or the Russian government. We have problem with the whole of Russian society. So please, help us to fight in this war by excluding Russia and its talents from world’s creative community. And help Ukrainian agencies to be visible for western clients. We need to earn money to help our country and our army. Thank you for your support once again.

Valentin Paniuta, Brand Leader and Co-CEO of Fedoriv Marketing Agency